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Tuesday, November 21, 2000 A Publication of the Newspeak Association Volume No. 65, Issue 10

Front Page
-WPI ranks second in nation for percentage of students abroad
-Coffeehouse's new venue opposed
-Nobody Knows You're a Dog
-Students come up with device to help blind locate crosswalk button

News
-Police Log

Opinions
-Letter from the Editors
-Balance of Power
-Down in the basement of Alumni Gym: What's up with WPI's bowling alley?

Letters to the Editor
-Advertisement misrepresents readers
-Ad could lead to racist hate messages
-Tech News should apologize for ad
-Academic requirements keep greek GPA's high
-WPI needs an Honor Code
-In defense of myself: Why the responses were wrong

International House
-Journey to the East

SGA Election
-The SGA Senate Race: Letters of Candidacy

Arts & Entertainment
-Fansubs are here to stay
-Barking Up the Right Tree
-Masque pushes the limits of technology in theatre
-WWPI Top Ten
-Person on the Street

Announcements
-Club Corner
-Crimson Clipboard

Sports
-WPI football team honors all-stars
-First swim meet of the season
-Scoreboard
-Upcoming Contests

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Down in the basement of Alumni Gym: What's up with WPI's bowling alley?


by Mike Newcomb
Sports Editor

Once upon a time, WPI had a very fine bowling alley. The lanes were well kept, classes were held regularly, and recreational bowling was available for students who were just looking to have some fun. Intramural and club teams were popular, and everyone was happy. In fact, the school won the 1974 national championship in this sport! Unfortunately, the alley seems to have been forgotten since those glory days.

Two years ago, the longtime manager of our bowling alley retired. He had done an excellent job maintaining the equipment, keeping the facility clean, and making sure everyone was having a good time. WPI has been advertising this open position of "Night/weekend bowling alley manager" since that time, but has yet to fill the position. As a result, there has been no staff member responsible for the alley whatsoever.

This year, I enrolled in PE1021 (titled "Bowling" believe it or not), and hoped to have a grand old time. I did not know much of the history behind the lanes, although in 1999 I tried reserving the facility to have a bowl-a-thon for WWPI Campus Radio, and we were told that the facility was closed. Nevertheless, I expected to be able to bowl, otherwise there would not be a bowling class, right?

The class was a nightmare from the beginning. The first few classes were cancelled because the pinsetters were not functioning correctly. Ray Gilbert, WPI's Athletic Director had been repeatedly been made aware of the situation by the faculty running the course, but nothing was done.

Finally, two weeks into Term A, we were at last bowling - sort of. On average, a lane would breakdown once every six minutes. And when that happened, you flipped the switch a few times and hit the reset button, but it did not usually help. Pins would be set, but get knocked over when the mechanism retreated back above the lane. Balls would get stuck and not be returned, and a gutter ball did not mean you got zero pins - usually at least two or three would not get picked up, and the sweeper took them away no matter how far away your ball was.

At this point, the class was frustrated. I began to write letters to the administration, trying to convey our feelings and get some answers. The athletic department obviously does not have the highest priority on campus, as this is an academic institution. However, physical education is a requirement to graduate, and one course offered does make use of the bowling alley, so it should be maintained. On top of that, the school advertises the fact that they have a bowling alley in school viewbooks and on our website, leading prospective applicants to believe that they can bowl.

Working with the administration, things have improved somewhat. As with many issues on campus, when students talk, they listen. Bernie Brown, Vice President for Student Affairs, claimed no knowledge of the situation until this year. However, he has met with me and is working to improve the situation. Some steps have been taken in the right direction, but the alleys are far from what they could be.

Athletic Director Gilbert, who also claimed to be unaware of any problems with the alley, has been less receptive. He also claims that the alleys were open for most of last year, staffed by various members of the department. Although he has passed along a few messages via e-mail, he has been unwilling to meet in person to discuss the situation further, although it has been suggested to him by at least one member of the administration.

Shawn McAvey has been doing an extraordinary job in maintaining the mechanical aspects of the alley. His efforts have reduced the failure rate from one lane every six minutes to approximately 1.5 breakdowns per class. McAvey also took it upon himself to organize a handful of students and do some much-needed cleaning to the facility, annihilating the dust bunnies that had been calling the Alumni basement home for the past two years.

This term, with the combined efforts of the instructors, McAvey, Brown, and others, the alley is in much better shape. Stand Out and Program (SOAP), a committee organized by the Student Activities Office, has funded open bowling on Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 8:00pm over the past few weeks. Food, a DJ playing music, and bowling are all free to members of the WPI community. There has been a tremendous response to this, which will hopefully encourage more recreational bowling hours, such as weeknights and weekend afternoons, when more people will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

However, the cleaning issue still needs to be addressed - the area in general is very dirty and could use some sprucing up. One wall is nearly black due to students leaning against it while waiting their turn. The balls do not appear to have been washed in a long time, and the lighting and ceiling have a yellowish tint. A leak in the ceiling from the locker showers above has been repaired, but the lanes still need to be refinished and a coat of wax needs to be maintained. With more students using the facility, routine cleaning and maintenance should become a priority.

According to Brown, a consultant was hired to inspect the lanes and determine the cost of repairing them and modernizing the facility. The department was considering hiring workstudy students to run the alley for recreational bowling, and a young man from a nearby commercial bowling alley has been helping take care of the mechanical problems.

Intramural bowling will reportedly be offered, but information regarding organization of that activity will not be available for a few weeks. Also, the facility was supposedly closed to student organizations. Upon further investigation, I was told it could be reserved for the WWPI fundraiser this year, but six hours would cost a group $200.00. This money would be used to pay someone to come in, open the facility, and staff it while people were there. This rate seems a bit high, considering the same amount could probably get several students six hours worth of bowling at a well-maintained facility with food and beverages available. However, the department should not be expected to lose money.

Overall, the situation is much better than it was at the beginning of this year, but work still needs to be done. A complete overhaul of the facility, with new pinsetters, ball returns, and computerized scoring would be expensive. But with the cost of maintaining the old equipment we have now, with special-order parts and minimal suppliers, it may be worth it in the long run.


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